2019 Christmas Gift Guide (for Kids!)

Usually my Christmas posts tell you about what we do for Christmashow we keep it minimal, our family traditions like Advent, how we budget for the holidays, and even the gifts we get for our kids. This year, we have decided to give our kids an “experience gift” so all of our gifts for them will focus around a specific theme. We want it to be a really fun surprise so we’re keeping that theme a secret until after they open up their gifts on Christmas morning.

But for now… I’ve had several family members begin to ask about ideas for Christmas for our little ones or friends ask for recommendations for their kids so I thought it would be helpful to put together a little Kids’ Christmas Gift Guide.

**This post does contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. 

But first, maybe you’d like a recap of last year’s gifts?? Aren’t you always curious to see which ones were hits and which ones were tossed in the corner a week later? I know, I am!

Here’s a Recap of What we Gave our Kids for Christmas Last Year:


 

  • Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescuer – This one was played with for a few months until we moved into our now minimal space. It has remained in storage since then and hasn’t been asked for.
  • Guess Who Game – We love games, and this one was a favorite, but it got destroyed by one of our little ones and so we had to throw it away.
  • Scrabble Junior Game – We began to lose pieces to this one, and since it’s one where you have to match up all of the letters to the letters on the board, they are necessary. This game is still played despite that, and I’m wondering if I could find a set of replacement letter tiles for it or if we could use regular scrabble tiles with it instead.
  • Checkers Game – We lost pieces and threw this one out. Apparently, we need to be more strict with our games as parents.
  • Drone – This was loved for a week or two and then lost at our old house and never found. (Lawson got another one for his birthday in June, and he played with it for a week and  then lost interest.)
  • Ikea Kitchen – This one is still loved and played with, not every day, but pretty often. I love it because it’s very neutral and instead of being like a toy, it goes with the decor of our home. Baby Lyndon is starting to pull up to it now.
  • LovEvery Baby Play Mat – We LOVED this play-mat and all of the things that came with it! Lyndon now crawls away from it because he’s extremely mobile, but he does play with all of the toys from it, and I need to set up the tent with it to see if that sparks his interest. My older kids loved using the play guides with him to teach him different skills at different ages.
  • Play-Doh Tubs – This was a hit and always is. It just about lasted all year, as I’m that mom who only lets them get one tub each out at a time so it works. (We keep three current tubs in our everyday play-doh storage with our tools, and the rest are stored out of reach.) This one will go on the list again this year.
  • Magnetic Building Set – These are by far the best toy we’ve ever owned! This was our second set to purchase for our kiddos last Christmas, and we even bought Linkin more for his birthday in May. They are so versatile and he plays with them in so many different ways.
  • Wooden Play-Doh Tools – I can’t remember if someone gifted my kids with this set, or if it was a last-minute add on gift from us last year, but they’ve been a hit. I’m not a big fan of the plastic play-doh sets that make spaghetti and the playdoh gets stuck in them and dries out… These, though, are fantastic!

Nativity Sets and “Elf on the Shelf” Alternatives

I personally love the idea of having a kid-friendly nativity scene available at Christmas for your kids to see and learn the true meaning of Christmas. I saw a family that had a separate nativity for each of their children that they could set up and play with themselves, and I thought that was a really neat idea. We personally have the Melissa and Doug Wooden set.

I also really like the Christian alternatives to “Elf on the Shelf”. If you do Elf on the Shelf with your kids, I’m in no way saying that’s a bad thing, but it just wouldn’t work for our family since we’ve never done Santa. I like that there are now different alternative options as well.


Now… on to the 2019 Christmas Gift Guide for Kids…

Baby and Young Toddler Gift Ideas

  • This ball tower was such a big hit with my kids. I think ours finally broke after we had it for several years, but it’s one toy I would buy again because of how much it entertained my little ones.
  • Layten has the piggy bank, and it is such a fun toy!
  • We’ve had a plastic set of the kids’ bar bell, and it was great to teach Lawson how to do simple and complex lifts before he was ready to move on to real weights.
  • Lyndon is into balls right now, so that’s probably going to be what he gets from everyone this year.
  • This Stella doll was a great first-baby doll for Layten. It’s so sweet and would be perfect for any little girl. They have LOTS of different options now!

 


Wooden School Blocks

When I say, “school blocks”, I’m referring to the really well-made, thick blocks we played with in preschool and kindergarten. I actually remember being hit in the eye with one of the really big ones in preschool, and yet I STILL want a good set for my kiddos. I just love these as open-ended toys where my kids can build and use their imaginations in creative ways! I’m a fan of the natural-look versus the painted sets, but I’m sure they will end up with crayon marks on them at some point too. I’ve included a few sets here, a budget-friendly set, a more valuable set, and an architectural set.

Grimms’ Stackers

Apparently these are the hit toys for minimalists. They “spark joy” because they sit pretty on a shelf, but kids also love them because they are so unique, and they can be really creative and imaginative in how they build with them. They’ve been on my wish list for several years probably, but they are crazy expensive so I haven’t ever justified purchasing them. I would love to get a set just to see what all the fuss is about, and if you’re wondering… the large rainbow stacker seems to be the top favorite among these sets.

Art Supplies

I feel like art supplies are a hit among most children, but be sure to make sure the parents are also on board with this one because art supplies tend to bring a mess along with them.

  • I’ve heard great things about the Chunkies paint sticks.
  • Layten got the Alex Art Kit – “Tots Art Start” for her birthday last year, and it was a big hit! It was perfect for her as a toddler then because there was no glue or anything too messy with it. There was sticky paper for her to easily attach the craft supplies to, stickers, and child-size crayons. The boys were jealous because since it was her gift, I didn’t let them play with it.
  • Sketch books for painting and drawing are always necessary.
  • Chalk pastels are something my kids and I have really come to enjoy this year.
  • These watercolors are so much better than the cheapy ones we’ve used in the past. I thought all watercolors were created equal, but let me tell you – they are not. These are worth the few extra dollars, and they include more colors too. We have one now, but my kids share. I might invest in a few more of these pallets.
  • I wanted to include water color pencils because they are pretty neat. Kids use them to draw the picture they are wanting to paint, and then they just use water over them to make the colors blend and come alive like watercolor paints.
  • And Scotch tape, of course… A roll of this for each kid’s stocking – what kid doesn’t love Scotch tape?!

Technology

Technology is so important these days, and of course kids love it! I like the idea of educational technology and games because it gives kids a way to use it but not get sucked into the tunnel vision of “screen time” and watching all the meaningless shows (but hey! That has it’s time a place too. Kids also need time to relax and chill.)

  • Lawson had one of these watches, and we loved it until the band of it broke. They now come with replacement bands so make sure yours has that extra band if you order. They have games to get kids moving with a timer, and my boys always took that as a challenge to do a good workout together.
  • This globe I’ve heard really good things about. It’s pricey, but they also have a cheaper model that doesn’t do quite as much. It would be a great educational gift.
  • I keep seeing these Osmo learning sets everywhere! This uses an ipad or fire tablet as the screen, but the kids use the included manipulatives to play the games and do the activities in front of it to learn.

Books

Don’t underestimate the power of books as great gifts! The Treehouse books are kid-approved recommendations, and my kids love these other types of books that include lots of pictures and facts. The “anatomy” books offer hand-drawn images so kids could easily duplicate these into their sketchbooks or nature journals as you learn about different topics. I know the “Welcome to the Museum” Books would be a hit with my kids as well, especially Lawson. It’s a refreshing change-up from the chapter books I require him to read for school now.

 

 

Games

Our family loves games! They pretty much play at least one game every day! I like these options to add to our collection.


Outdoor Toys

My kids love to dig and play in the sand and dirt! We had a sandbox at our old house that they loved, and they have lots of dirt here now. They need durable tools that they can use when the plastic sets from the beach just don’t cut it anymore. They also love to get crafty and build structures. Lawson has gotten a few of these kits, and they’re always a hit when he has his own real tools and supplies he can use!

 

Boxes & Subscriptions

KiwiCo – These are subscription, craft kits that kids receive every month so it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. They receive a cool box of things to assemble for their age level. You can do the subscriptions for as short or as long as you’d like.

LovEvery Play Kits – This is the same concept, but the play items in these kits are more age-specific and are sent when your little ones hit another age milestone. They are also specific to infants and toddlers up to 24 months.

Raddish Kids Cooking Kits – These are like the meal kits that many are raving about these days, except it’s geared for kids and teaching them how to cook in the process!

We Craft Box is just like the name says… It’s a box of supplies to make a special art project or craft together each month. So fun!

We Craft Box 3-month renewing subscription
I love making gift lists for my kids! Isn’t it so much fun to think about and plan for gifts you know they’ll love?! For Lawson’s birthday this past year, we told him we were just going to get him something we wanted to give him instead of getting what he asked for. We gave him his motorcycle, and he has LOVED it! He keeps telling us how much better it is than something he would’ve come up with himself. So, we might be doing that for Christmas with all of them this year as well with our “experience gift.”

What would YOU add to the list?

[Ep. 010] – Giving your Kids a Work Ethic

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Show Notes –

In this week’s episode of My Purposeful Planning, Laney shares about Giving our Kids a Work Ethic. We talk about the importance of chores for kids, as well as some methods we can use and helpful tips for teaching chores to our children.

In This Episode:

  • In a world where entitlement and laziness are becoming more and more prevalent… it is up to us as parents to set the foundations for our kids and set them up for success. It will be up to them and God after they launch. But until then… we have to do our part.
  • For this episode I went to social media and asked for help on this one. I don’t ever want to pretend that I know everything about a particular topic. I usually just share what I do know and how the topic applies to my life. But for this one – I felt if I only shared my perspective on this… that I would be excluding a whole group of parents and that is those that have kids older than mine.
  • Teach them. (The what, the why, and the how)
  • Podcast: Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast
  • Craig Groeschel – “Lead with the why”
  • When we are introducing a new chore to our kids or any kind of “change” and we don’t tell them WHY it’s important, they are not going to jump on board with you.
  • Craig Groeschel – “People will work for a “what”, but they will give their lives for a “why”. The why is important.”
  • “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your Father and Mother” which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3
  • Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord” Colossians 3:20
  • Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Do all things without complaining or disputing, Philippians 2:14
  • “You obey, right away, all the way, with a good attitude, everyday.” (It’s easier to give grace to my children with this one when I think about my own obedience to God.)
  • “Business before pleasure” – which means that we do our chores and our work before we play.
  • Dianne Goulet says it this way, “The sooner you finish your have-to’s, the sooner you can do your want-to’s” She said she wanted to teach her kids delayed gratification to some extent but also that our “want-to’s” are MUCH more enjoyable without the have to’s hanging over our heads.”
  • “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  (My kids have never missed a meal due to the fact that they simply didn’t wantt to do their chores. They really want to eat, so then they put aside whatever their issue is and do the work that’s being asked of them.)
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” This applies to grown ups as well. If we don’t work and earn a paycheck, we can’t buy food to feed our family. Its basically a principle that we’re instilling from an early age.
  • Notes from the Parenting Seminar
  • Blog Post: Family I.D.
  • Ask these questions in order to decide and write your values. “What values do I admire most?” “What makes me mad, frustrated, etc.?” “What value was violated when that happens?”
  • Teach them HOW: Tell them. Show them. Do it with them. Supervised Practice. Independent Practice.
  • Write the steps on a card, and tape it near the job site.
  • Our attitude towards work is important. Work is serving God, and little ones learn this with their first chores.
  • Model it.
  • This is helping to demonstrate your why to them.
  • One way that I do this is with our chore board. We have a chalkboard in the kitchen, and I will look around a write down everything I see that needs to be done – the things that feel urgent to me.
  • Training is hard work.
  • Never gripe about what you allow. Never complain about what you tolerate. – Craig Groeschel
  • So I said in my last episode about attitude that I can ignore sin in my children because discipline is hard work. It really really is, but it is SO necessary.
  • It takes TIME.
  • I share our old philosophy of parenting and the regrets we have from that.
  • You teach values. When those values are violated, there are consequences… sometimes natural consequences but sometimes consequences like time outs, loss of privileges, loss of tangibles, reparations, or spanking. Then there is affirmation and mentoring – You affirm them because of their identity and then affirm behavior “I love you because you’re my child.” Then mentoring where you can discuss with your children about the values that were violated and talk about ways they can learn to live out those values in a better way next time.
  • Punishment vs. Discipline
  • “Punishment decreases unwanted behavior. Discipline shapes character.” -Dr. Andy Yarbourough
  • Training is hard work, but it is so worth it.
  • I want to be the parent that says to other parents “It DOES get better”. And let me tell you – it does….if you do the hard work of training them well. It doesn’t just magically happen. You have to do the work. And not just consistency in dishing out punishments either….. that doesn’t work. You have to discipline them, teach them, and train them. And it DOES get better.
  • My children are still young, but I am already seeing fruit from them. They are not perfect, but they are growing and maturing, and I can already see that.
  • You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.
  • I have always heard this quote in relation to chore lists and schoolwork because I’m a homeschooling mama. This was one of my points for this episode to talk about that, but it was also mentioned in that parenting seminar… in relation to checking up on your kids and their phones, social media, their belonging ,etc.
  • Whatever you’re expecting from your children, you have to inspect it as well.
  • So if you’re expecting that they do something, you have to also inspect it. If you’re expecting that they have good character and exemplify kindness, you have to inspect their phones and social media, etc.
  • A Method for the Madness
  • This is the part where you have to have a system for working your plan. Your system can be as simple as writing a list of chores for them to complete after school each day. Your system could be a checklist that you print off every week or month that they complete. Remember though – you can’t just see that they checked the boxes – you actually have to inspect that they did the actual task listed. Your system can be a chart with velcro tasks and pictures. It can be a chart that has a clothespin with their name on it as they move down the list.
  • Whatever method you choose to use… Teach them what is required, Teach them WHY which can be attached to your family’s values, and Teach them the steps for HOW to do it. Model good attitude and initiative for working hard and doing the “have-tos” before the “want-tos”. Inspect what you expect. Take the time to train them. Implement consequences and positive discipline when values are violated. Affirm them in their identity and behaviors. Mentor them.
  • (The next few points come from the social media post where I asked other mamas to chime in.)
  • Chrissy Hoskin says, “Instill the mindset of “Leave it better than you found it.” If you choose to rush through it and not do it well, you get to do it again… for several days for extra practice…Teaching them to be part of the team…Teaching them excellence over being mediocre…Teaching them to be helpful and not lazy…Teaching them how to take care of a home to prepare them for caring for their own future homes. There are lots of life skills being built just by giving your kids chores.
  • Dianne Goulet says, “I tried to keep a very positive attitude and focus surrounding chores from an early age. We might sing as we worked, listen to our favorite music, or set the timer to see how much we could get done before it went off. We might treat ourselves with a favorite activity when we were done. Sometimes we’d just talk and laugh as we worked. I wanted to convey that although they were necessary tasks we may not enjoy in and of themselves, we can choose to do them with a good attitude and that makes time pass more quickly as well as making the the tasks more enjoyable. Teamwork makes un-preferred tasks more enjoyable.”
  • Rebecca Ritchey says, “I remind them that they are working first unto the Lord. We expect things to be done in order and in excellence. We teach them to do their best by reminding them that it is a core value of our family to do our best and be our best. We remind them that we are all apart of a whole. Apart of the team. We all pull our part.”
  • Rebecca also mentions when she checks up on them – she looks to see if it’s because of disobedience and an attitude or if it’s from just being busy and it getting forgotten. I like how she thinks about the why and the reason it’s not done first. Then she says something about giving the one grace rule. Then she ties their identity to it by saying “The Ritchey’s aren’t lazy”. So good!
  • Britney O’Neal says she sat her kids down and asked them what chore they would like to learn that they thought would be a big help to mommy. It empowered them to have some input on the whole idea, and she said it has resulted in her laundry loads being cut in half.
  • Most everyone who commented mentioned teamwork and working together – not just one person doing all the things.
  • And they all mentioned starting from a very early age doing simple tasks like picking up toys before nap and bedtime, putting laundry in the hamper basket, shaking out and smoothing socks and washcloths, then to fold washcloths and match socks.
  • By the time they are older, most of them said they are responsible for keeping their own spaces neat, cleaning up after themselves in common areas, helping to clean the bathroom they use, helping to clean common areas, and helping with dishes, vacuuming, mopping, and folding laundry.
  • As far as standards go – they mentioned teaching the appropriate steps one step at a time as well as making sure the expectations are clear. It’s tailored to each child’s age and individual ability. Some grace is given for how clothes are folded, and some kids are perfectionists that will surprise you when they fold even better than we do as parents. A child who is capable of doing a job well gets to do it again until its done to satisfaction or practice it over the next few days.”

Additional Links and Resources Mentioned:

   

Find Laney:

Instagram
Facebook
My Purposeful Planning Facebook Group
My Purposeful Planning Community on Patreon
Email: laney@mypurposefulplanning.com

Listen to the My Purposeful Planning Podcast –

Listen to “My Purposeful Planning” on Spreaker.

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My Top Three Favorite Black Friday Deals

Ready to see my favorite Black Friday Deals?! The best part about these deals is that you can get them from your couch, using your phone, and in your pajamas! No crowd-fighting for these online deals!

1. LovEveryBaby Play Gym or Baby Subscription Boxes 

$10 off Play Mat or Subscription Boxes Just for Using my Link
-Plus-
$20 off $100+ Purchases using code BLACKFRIDAY20

This means you can get a great deal on the Baby Play Gym, Prepay for a Subscription, or Gift 2 or more Play Kits! This is a great gift idea for any baby on your Christmas shopping list. We just ordered this play gym a while back for our baby that we are expecting soon. I love a good baby play gym, and this one exceeded my expectations! I had already read all up on it and fell in love with it before I ordered it, but when it came in – it was even better that I thought! It’s definitely one of my top-recommended baby products now!

2. Amazon Books: $5/20 Any Book Purchase 

This is one of my favorite promotions that Amazon does, and I take advantage of it pretty much every time it comes around! We use it for Home school books on our list or just books I have saved in my Amazon cart (which is always).

Use Code NOVBOOK18

Here are some of the books I have in my Amazon Cart right now… I wonder which one’s I’ll choose to order this time. 😉

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

The Better Mom Devotional: Shaping our Hearts as We Shape Our Homes by Ruth Schwenk

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministrry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman

So Many Littles, So Little Time: A Worn our Mom’s Guide to Mothering Little Ones by Amy Roberts

Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing a Large Family by Kim Brenneman

From Grouchy to Great: Finding Joy in the Journey of Motherhood by Ruth Schwenk

Together: Growing Appetities for God by Carrie Ward

Grace-Based Discipline: How to Be at Your Best When Your Kids Are at their Worst by Karis Kimmel Murray

3. Crystal Paine’s Courses

I’ve been following Crystal’s blog for YEARS! We actually have the same personality type so all of her stuff really resonates with me. I also know that all of her courses are amazing, because I’ve taken some of them myself. She’s very personable and helpful. I emailed her after signing up for one of her courses and ask her a question on how to practically apply something, and she emailed me back with some really helpful advice! She’s the real deal!

With the code BF2018, you can get any of her courses for 50% off! 

Happy Shopping!

How to Put Together a Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe

One term you might have heard in the Minimalist World is the term “Capsule Wardrobe”. You can read some of my posts on Capsule Wardrobes here and here. Today, I’m going to be showing you how to create a Capsule Wardrobe for your kids. Even though it’s not cold yet here, I’m getting prepared for our next season’s wardrobe. I’m doing it now because this was the week of my favorite kids’ consignment sale that only happens twice a year… once in the Spring and once in the Fall. I went through all my kids’ clothing storage, and I’m so glad I did! I actually decided NOT to go to the consignment sale this year, for several reasons, but mostly because I felt like we had enough of a base set of clothes for each child – that it just wasn’t necessary to go.

Now, I’m not super strict about anything when it comes to these capsules for my kids, but you can do this however you want to. Our family relies heavily on hand-me-downs for our kids’ wardrobes, so we work with what we have as best we can. Sure, I’d love to have a great mix-n-match capsule for them and work it like I do my own, but for the most part – my kids’ capsules are made up of simple tops and bottoms or two-piece matching outfits for my girl, and that works for us.

I took a screen shot of this Insta-story Highlight from Kelsey Van Kirk to give me an idea of where to start and about how many of each piece we would need. Of course, she has only girls so ours will differ a little bit. For instance, obviously my boys don’t need dresses, but they are pretty rough on pants sometimes so having more of those for them makes more sense for us. Also, she lives a bit more North than we do so their weather climate might differ a bit from ours as well.

For us in Mississippi, while we are fully embracing the Fall colors and current sales of the Fall/Winter clothing available to us now, it will still be a while before we actually need to fully transition to long pants, long sleeves, and jackets. My kids would burn up if I were to store away their shorts and short-sleeves now. So… with that being said, both sets need to be pretty accessible for us now shorts for now, and long-pants within reach – just in case we have a cold snap. This makes our closet look pretty full which, honestly, isn’t my favorite thing. I had to dig out some more hangers to make it work for us, and there was absolutely no way I was going to fit short and long pants of all three kids in one dresser. I’ll show you our storage and organization for it all in just a bit.

So, let’s go ahead and start from the beginning of the process, and I’ll take you all the way through to the end to show you how we store it all in our family.

Step One: Assess what you already own and what you can continue to use for the upcoming season.
For us, this part of the process included bringing in ALL the kids’ clothes storage boxes and sorting through them to see what we could add in.

When I did this, I found that I had actually missed a box of Spring/Summer hand-me-down clothes that my four year old could’ve been wearing all this time, just because my boxes weren’t properly labelled. So there was something I needed to immediately fix to be better for the next time I go through this process. The second thing I wanted to improve on is to purchase actual storage boxes. I used what I had… diaper boxes and Amazon boxes… to store clothes, and that’s just not the most ideal form of storage. As, it turns out…. we have PLENTY of clothes, and I have very few things that I will need to purchase for this next season for my kids. What a blessing!

A. Bring in boxes from storage. I store hand-me-downs that are given to us for all three children – even in sizes that are too big for them, so it’s really nice to have these to pull out when we need them. We are so thankful for these! 
B. Make labels for different categories as you go. Try to separate them by gender, size, and season if they aren’t already like this. (I even made a category for things to consign that I knew we would no longer need.)

This is the part where you can be a little choosy. It doesn’t matter if it was a gift or it’s just worn out – you get to decide what things you keep and what you need to purge. I also posted two screenshots from Kelsey Van Kirk about this topic, which I agree with 100%. We are super blessed and grateful when we receive these gifts and hand-me-downs, but I don’t feel obligated to keep every single thing – just because it was given to us. I am the manager of my household and ultimately the one who does the laundry each week, so I have to sometimes purge so that it doesn’t become too much for me. It’s an absolutely necessary step for me.
 

C.  If it’s something you think will fit and work for your child(ren) for this next season, add it straight to the hamper to wash. 
D. Once everything is sorted into categories, you can probably stack your newly labelled boxes back up. I wouldn’t put them away just yet. You might have to add something to them if it happens to not fit properly or you find something you missed in the whole process.
E. Wash and properly launder all of the clothes you added to the hamper. Sort them by size and gender again.
F. Have your children try on anything you are unsure about.

Step Two: Working on one child’s wardrobe at a time, take all of the items in a category (For example… bottoms) and lay them all out together so you can see what you have. Use the guide to see if you have enough of the particular item. Think about your lifestyle. Do you need more active-wear for your kids or more dress pants? Go ahead and make a note of what type of things you think you might still need to purchase.

Linkin’s Bottoms (Long Pants)
Lawson’s Bottoms (Long Pants)
Layten’s Bottoms (Long Pants)

Step Three: Do this for every category in the guide. Then, repeat this for each child as well.

Linkin’s Pajamas
Linkin’s Tops (Long-Sleeve)
Linkin’s Jackets
Lawson’s Button Down Shirts (Long Sleeve)
Lawson’s Tops (Long-Sleeve)
Lawson’s Jackets

Step Four: Create mix-n-match outfits like a traditional capsule, or at least make sure everything has something that will match with it. Do you have a pair of navy blue athletic joggers with a lime green stripe down the side? Make sure you have an appropriate top to match with it. Do you need to purchase something to match and make them work, or would it be easier to choose a more neutral-colored pair of joggers that would work better with your other items? These are the kinds of things you should think about when creating a wardrobe. The last thing you want is items that just take up unnecessary space – or worse – that your children try to wear mismatched and embarrass themselves and you. 😉 Kidding, of course, but it’s best to eliminate those types of struggles before they occur. Am I right?

I think with infants, toddlers, girls, and also boutique-style outfits… you might find that you have “sets” or “outfits” that easily go together instead of mix and match items for a traditional capsule. You can see an example of this with Layten’s wardrobe outfits. Most of them are matching sets already, but she also has a few that can mix and match as well… you’ll see that I added multiple options for bottoms that could match some of the tops she has.

Step Five: Take your list of items you still need for all of your children to fill in those gaps, and head out shopping… or shop online! This is the perfect opportunity for you to shop a great kids’ consignment sale, but having that list in hand of what you actually need before you go is going to help you out so much and save you some unnecessary stress.

This may seem like a long list, but all of these things I’ve listed are not “priority” or “must-haves”, but instead they are mostly “would like to haves” so we’ll just add them in as I find them on sale or as it fits in our budget. It’s all about making it work for you. Our base wardrobe is great already – they all have several pairs of pants and tops and even a few jackets to get them started… so I think we’re pretty good with what we have!

Step Six: Once you’ve purchased everything you need, and you’ve filled all of the gaps in your kids’ wardrobes, it’s time to figure out the best way to store everything. If you’ve gone by the guide of suggested amounts, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the appropriate storage for everything, but having kids who share a closet or dresser could present a small challenge… although, it’s nothing that can’t be figured out.

Closet and Shoe Cubby Shelf for Three Kids
Layten’s Drawer with Pajamas and Shorts
Lawson’s Drawer with Socks, Underwear, Undershirts, and Pajama Pants
Linkin’s Drawer with Socks, Underwear, and Pajama Sets
Both Boys’ Drawer for Shorts
  • I like to hang up all jackets, dresses, and tops.
  • We store pants, pajamas, socks, and underwear in dresser drawers. We have one dresser in our kids’ shared bedroom with 4 drawers, and it works perfectly for us.
  • Exception: If there’s a pair of pants that specifically matches a top we have, I like to drape those over the hanger that holds the top so they are stored together. This is the case with a lot of baby/toddler clothes as well as matchy boutique-type outfits that come as sets.
  • We have a cubby shelf in the closet for shoes.
  • And if we’re being honest, I should also admit that we also store several pairs of shoes in the car, unintentionally of course, and my little girl LOVES to try on everyone’s shoes, wear them for a while, and then leave them in various places all over the house – so there’s that.
  • Excess Storage: There was no way that I was going to be able to store everyone’s shorts, long pants, pajamas, socks, and underwear all in one dresser. Our three kids currently share a bedroom, a closet, and a dresser. I’m not interested in adding any more furniture either, so I was determined to make it work. I don’t love the idea of having under-the-bed storage, but I did decide to use these Thirty-one bins to store long pants for now. They’re easily accessible if we need them for church or a sudden cold snap, but I’m not ready to move them to the drawers just yet. As soon as our warm days are mostly over, I’ll transition the shorts and short-sleeves to storage, but for now, I think this will work really well for us.A few things to note:
  • Sometimes it’s hard to know what size your kid is going to be in for the next season. I think this is really just trial and error, and it does seem to get a little easier as they get older. Of course, I’m not sure that we’ve hit those ages with massive growth spurts yet, but so far – it’s always worked out that we have a storage of hand-me-downs for the next size up, which as I’ve mentioned we’ve been super blessed to have. It’s a little more difficult with infants and toddlers, as they seem to change sizes more quickly. Just do your best to make a good guess, and fill in with items you need as necessary.
  • It’s much easier if you prepare ahead of time and have a storage of “the next size up” for each of your children. This can be done by shopping End-of-the-Season sales and of course saving those hand-me-downs. My mom loves to shop sales like this, and she’s usually pretty great about buying the next size up for us to store and wear later when we need it. It’s great!
  • Brands aren’t everything, but sometimes they do really make a difference. There are a few things I try to stay away from… zippered pajamas from some brands tend to change shape when they are washed and dried. I’m sure it was something I was doing wrong with my laundry process, but I don’t have time to take separate steps for separate items like that at this point in my life. I noticed this most in infant sleepers, so I prefer the buttons or top and bottom sets. I also prefer Carter’s brand over anything else we’ve tried for pajama sets because they keep their size and don’t draw up in the wash. It’s super confusing when something says 2T and should fit my petite one year old but doesn’t at all because it’s drawn up in the wash. We also prefer cotton pajamas mostly. Pajamas can also look dingy and old if they are flannel or fleece materials when they are passed down, but of course that’s my personal opinion. It’s just something to think about if you rely on good sales and hand-me-down items like we do.
  • Hand me downs are great for clothes, but be prepared to invest some money into good shoes. These get worn out much more easily, and they aren’t always nice enough to pass on to others.Do you plan ahead for your kids’ seasonal wardrobes? I’d love to know how you plan, shop, and organize the kids’ wardrobes in your family!

     

Our Story of How We Decided to Homeschool

One of the areas that our family has chosen to be intentional and purposeful is our decision to homeschool our children. It’s amazing how God puts these desires in our hearts… it’s not something I had ever really considered before, but here’s a little back story for you on how we got to where we are now with our homeschooling decision.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and “playing school” was my favorite thing. I even had my own podium, large dry erase board, and I LOVED school supplies (still do!). I bought grade books, teaching resources, and taught my Beanie Babies. Teaching was always what I wanted to do, but as I majored in Music Education, then Elementary Education, I quickly realized that working in a school setting with all of the mandated tests and requirements was not what I wanted to do. I was working through college as a Preschool Teacher, which I loved! It’s really where all the fun is – where children are allowed (and encouraged) to learn through play, the way it really should be. Don’t get me wrong – there was still plenty of time for planned, teacher-directed learning as well – in the form of stories, art activities, and related science and sensory experiences. Writing lesson plans and planning experiences was a fun process for me, and implementing them with my students was amazing too! At this point, I decided to switch gears and become a full-time preschool teacher while pursuing Early Childhood Education online.

As I mentioned earlier, homeschooling was not really something I’d ever considered before, but as I transitioned out of the preschool classroom setting and into the home and caregiver setting as a full-time nanny, I couldn’t lose those things that I loved so much about teaching. I began to teach the twins that I cared for, and really in a sense, we were homeschooling. As I planned lessons for them, researched ideas, discovered Pinterest, and found homeschooling blogs, I fell in love the idea of homeschooling. I knew that one day I would homeschool our own children.

I got pregnant with Lawson and had an in-home daycare for a while. Then, when I got pregnant with Linkin, we decided to close the home daycare and begin my journey as a full-time stay at home mama. It was a big leap of faith because it meant that I was walking away from bringing in any income at all on my part, but we’ve been blessed in ways that money could never compare by the decision of being home with my children. Yes, some days are hard. Yes, some times I lose my mama cool and need a little time-out. But for the most part, it has really been the best decision, and I can’t imagine doing anything else – at least not anything that will take me away from being home with my children.

Homeschooling has just been one of those things that has allowed me to both be home with my children and teach them too. It also allows me to do many of the things that I really love and enjoy – planning, organizing, researching, teaching, and administrating all in one! God has just stirred up a desire in us to teach them and give them a great, biblical foundation here at home – with as few outside influences as possible. I’m not saying that we will homeschool forever because we really don’t know what God has in store for us, but for now, it’s the best decision we could’ve ever made. Our children are close, and they play well together. I love that I don’t ever have to ask my children how their day went because I already know the answer. I love that we are free to do this as we choose to. I don’t have to have a degree to teach my children. I know them better than anyone else on the planet. I’ve studied their little personalities and learning styles to create what I think is the best education for each of them, individually. Of course, this will ebb and flow as they grow and we all change, but it’s a really beautiful thing that we get to do here. We absolutely love homeschooling!  

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful! 

New Series… “Not” Back to School

This is the time in our area where most of the kids are going “Back to School”. We are a homeschooling family so we’re not going Back to School, per se, but we do like to celebrate the beginning of a new school year for us at home as well.

I thought it would be fun to share some glimpses into our homeschool this month in a series I’m calling “Not Back to School”
.

Some of the Posts you’ll see in this Series…

  • Our Story of How We Decided to Homeschool
  • Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices
  • Our Homeschool Organization & Space
  • Our Homeschool Yearly Schedule & Terms
  • Our Homeschool Daily Schedule & Routines
  • My Homeschool Planner (This one might be my favorite to share!)
  • Our Favorite Homeschool Tools and Resources
  • Our Homeschool Record-Keeping and Portfolios

    What else would you like to see? I think this will be a really fun series because homeschooling has become one of my favorite things!

    Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

How and Why We Color-Code our Kids’ Things

We are in a series where I’m sharing my favorite tips and strategies with you that help me to be more purposeful in my life, with my family, and in our household. Purposeful Planning is less about planners and planning systems and more about finding intentional, practical ways to help you do what you do better. It comes from all of the hats we wear as moms, wives, and Christian women. I’ve realized that I do actually have a lot of systems and routines that have come to work really well for me, and I thought maybe it would be helpful to share those things with you – because who knows? They might work really well for you too! So here we are with My Purposeful Planning Tips & Strategies!

This tip would be another Mom Tip… Color-Coding is something we really embraced after I fell in love with the concept of minimalism.

Color-Coding Dishes
Today, I’m just talking about dishes. I had the idea to only keep the amount of dishes that we ACTUALLY use in a day. This has helped me so much with keeping up with the dishes and kitchen clean-up! Just like with laundry or anything else, the more you own and use, the more time it will take to clean up and manage. We only have enough dishes for one day in our cabinets accessible to us, and all of our dishes fit in our dishwasher now. This means that I can run it at night and wake up to clean dishes for the next day. It’s amazing how that works!

For the kids, I bought a set of plastic dishes for the kids that we all love. It was only $5 at Walmart, and it comes with a tray with divided sections (perfect for adding foods from different food groups at meals), a plate, a bowl, a cup, and utensils. The set we bought has blue, green, pink, and purple. Lawson is blue. Linkin is green. Layten is pink, and we put the purple set up for when we have guests over. I’ve actually purchased a few of these sets to have when we need them, but we only keep one set out and accessible at a time. It makes it so easy for us, and the kids love having their own color to use each time. It definitely gives them ownership and prevents any fights over who gets which one.

We have the perfect amount of dishes for a day. If they end up using a bowl for oatmeal at breakfast, and we also have soup at dinner – you know what happens? We hand wash the bowl to use it again. I know I just blew your mind with that one, but it’s really not that difficult to wash three bowls real quick. We all have one cup that we use all day long, and it can be refilled with water from a Brita picher in the fridge at any point in the day. The same is for me – I have my Yeti cup that I refill with ice and water throughout the day. If I can keep up with the routine of doing dishes every day, then we are good to go. And of course, If I’m extremely tired and go to bed without doing them, then I have to do them in the morning before we can have breakfast because there will be no clean dishes to choose from. It’s a natural consequence, even for myself.

We also have colored, reusable water bottles for when we go places, and Layten has her pink sippy cups still. Just like I like to refill my Yeti cup to take with me, I also know they might get thirsty too, so we take a lunch box, ice pack, and their bottles with us when we leave the house. This saves us money we would spend on juice boxes or pouches to take with us or by having to stop and eat out for lunch or get a snack or drink when they decide they are thirsty or hungry while we are out. If we do plan to eat out somewhere, we will let them get a juice or a lemonade to drink as a fun choice, but we try to plan around this to save money as much as possible. My kids are always with me, so running through a drive through can add up real fast.

Color-coding is not something I ever thought I would do with my kids, but it has proven to be a real time-saver and saves us some arguments too. 😉

My Purposeful Planning Tips & Strategies Series… 
I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you! What do you want to know? Is there anything that interests you or an area where you’re struggling? Maybe I can help you find that solution you’re looking for! That would be such a joy and an honor for me! Let me know!

And whatever you do – let’s make a plan to be more purposeful!

My Monthly Goals for July 2018

After reviewing my yearly goals, here are the things I will be working on for the month of July… 

Spiritual Goals:
Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering an online Bible study this month of the book Seamless by Angie Smith. I missed this small group Bible Study when a group from our campus did it, but I heard it was phenomenal. So, when I got the email that it was going to be available as an online study, I ordered the book and jumped on board! This is the supplemental study I will be doing this month.

Mothering/Family Goals:

  • Lawson will still be working through his Summer Reading Passports Program and working toward his goals of earning a new book from the book store and a family trip to the Kroc Center.
  • Linkin will continue working through his Raising Rockstars Preschool with me.
  • Layten will continue to be read to daily, and we are going to try to work on weaning from the pacifier this weekend. (Prayers are appreciated.)
  • Things still left on our Summer Bucket List: Float the Creek, Kroc Center, Lynn Meadows, Zoo, S’mores, Aquarium, Campfire, Bike Ride on a Trail, Hiking Adventure, Make pickles, and Snow Boogers (Who knows if we’ll get to all of these – probably not, but we’ll try to get to as many as we can)

Homeschooling Goals: 
We will start back to school this week with some light schooling. Why, you ask?
Well for one, we are going to have a newborn in December and I know we will be taking some time off for that so we need to get a head start so we can have a break next Summer. Our requirement is 180 days so we need to try our best to meet that, even if it means starting early. I just know myself and that we will definitely want to take a mid-year break, especially to get used to having a new member in our family.
Second, we really all do well with having a routine. We like to have fun, but our normal schedule and routine is good for us, so we do what we want.
Third, I did say “light schooling” which means we will be starting with our character study of Knight Training, me Reading Aloud to them, and our Memory Work… but other than that we won’t do too much more than our current Summer Reading Program and Fun Summer Activities we have planned.

My Personal Goals: Reading Plans
One of my yearly goals was to read 12 books this year, which I am still on track to do.  This month I am finishing up reading Stengths Based Marriage (Build a Stronger Relationship By Understanding Each Other’s Gifts) by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey and Knights in Training (Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys) by Heather Haupt.  This one I’m reading and taking notes on each chapter to go over with the boys each week.

Marriage Goals:
We are trying to still have monthly date nights and intentionally have some quality time at home at least once a week. We will be leading a family small group together is month.

Health & Fitness Goals:
Keep doing CrossFit, even if I have to modify and scale everything. Work harder at meal planning and prepping to have healthy meals readily accessible to me.

Financial Goals:

  • Continue in the grocery store & drugstore game for saving money with our food, toiletries, & household purchases.
  • Work on starting some sinking funds.
  • Prepare for Christmas. (Baby coming in December – I’ve gotta get on that!)
  • Sell our house, maybe?

Professional Goals:
Purposeful Planning Tips & Strategies Series for the month of July

What goals will you be working on this month? If you’re just starting out, you can read my series on My Purposeful Planning and hopefully be inspired with one thing to begin with and how to reach that one goal, which will only lead you to want to achieve more.

Let’s go make a plan to be purposeful! 

My Monthly Goals for June: An Update

 

After reviewing my yearly goals, here are the things I have been working on for the month of June…

Spiritual Goals:
I’m still working through reading the One Year Bible, and I’ve got a supplemental study that I will be doing over the next month. I had you praying for me in some areas I was struggling with – mostly with control and perfectionism in my parenting and also just trusting that God’s plan and whatever He has in store for us is best, even if we have to wait for it until His perfect timing. I’ve had many parenting challenges lately and it’s caused lots of frustrations and my emotions to go wild. I am aware of how I am responding to each of these challenges and frustrations, and I’m trying to intentionally replace those unhealthy responses with more positive and uplifting ones. It’s been a good month of learning and growing for me. You can read all about that in my last post.

Mothering/Family Goals:
We are on Summer Break, but it doesn’t mean we’re just watching T.V. and being lazy all day. We are still being purposeful with our time, each one of us.

Lawson is in the middle of a summer reading program where we’ve spent time reading at the park, on the couch, in the car, in the bed, with a stuffed animal, with a sibling, with a grandparent, while eating ice cream, and all sorts of others on our bucket list for the summer. It makes it a little more enjoyable for him, and he’s got two goals he’s working towards… One is to choose a new book to purchase from a book store, and the other is to go to the Kroc Center for a day with the family.

Linkin has been slowly working through some of his Raising Rockstars Preschool with me, and he’s learned his two Bible verses. I was also surprised to find out that he’s been paying attention and has learned many of the catechisms we’ve been working on. Layten just enjoys looking at books and being read to, and she is my big helper around the house lately.

What else We’ve Been Up to this Summer: 

  • Lawson has been to two Vacation Bible Schools this month. He went to one the very first week of June (the week after we finished homeschooling), and he said, “I’m not homeschooled this week- I’m Bible-schooled.” All of the kids got to go to Vacation Bible School this past week at my parents’ church, and they absolutely loved it!
  • We’ve been to the park a few times this month.
  • We had a messy art day of paining at the house.
  • A client of Justin’s invited us to come use their pool and house while they were out of town one weekend. It was kind of like a little stay-cation for us, where we got to swim and grill out.
  • Lawson also asked if we could have a “Milk Stand” (similar to a lemonade stand), but I suggested we do it and offer cookies and chocolate syrup for those that don’t like to drink milk. He worked for about three hours, and he had a pretty successful morning at it!


  • During our week with Nana and Papaw, we had a picnic and went swimming at Choctaw Lake.
  • We went to see Paw Patrol Live in Tupelo.
  • We went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 at the movie theater, and Memaw Francess got to keep Layten.
  • We also picked lots and lots of blueberries!
  • We went to a Biloxi Shuckers baseball game with our church.
  • We had Lawson’s sixth birthday party at Flint Creek.

  

My Personal Goals: Reading Plans
One of my yearly goals was to read 12 books this year, which I am still on track to do. This month I read Pitchin’ A Fit! (Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting) by Israel & Brook Wayne, which you can read my post/review of this book here. I’m also still currently reading Stengths Based Marriage (Build a Stronger Relationship By Understanding Each Other’s Gifts) by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey. 

Marriage Goals:
We attended a marriage conference this year, participated in a marriage small group this past semester, and have had one weekend getaway as a couple this year (the homeschool convention). We are trying to still have monthly date nights and intentionally have some quality time at home at least once a week.

Health & Fitness Goals:
I am still doing Crossfit! My only goal really is to just keep working out throughout this pregnancy. I’ve had to modify a lot of things this past month, which is kind of annoying, but I definitely want to stay safe. I’ve switched to Box Squats instead of regular Back Squats. I plank instead of doing any ab work. I do step ups instead of box jumps, modified burpees, and I’ve started doing bar-push ups instead of regular ones.  It’s so crazy how easily fatigued I feel now doing simple things I’ve been doing for months. Just keep moving, and try to eat as healthy as possible is my goal.

Financial Goals:
Our house is still for sale, but we aren’t stressed out about it not selling yet either. We’re really trying to just maximize our budget, and make it work for us the best we can. We really believe in being intentional in all areas, even with our money. We prioritize the things that are important to us – especially tithing, paying our bills, and other things like family activities that we are intentional with. Summers have always been difficult months for us, financially. Although Justin doesn’t take time off during the Summers or anything, his clients do for their Summer vacations and things they have going so he misses those sessions and the pay from them. And usually our utility costs go up during the Summer months as well, so it makes things pretty tight. This year, has been better though, because we’ve had his pay from CrossFit to supplement. We are so thankful for that!

I am working to manage our food and grocery budget a little better, though. Now that I’m coming out of the season of morning sickness, I think I can really be more diligent about meal-planning, prepping, and saving money while grocery shopping. We realized that Walmart shopping was really sucking up our grocery and food budget. Although, we aren’t wasteful, and we pretty much eat all of the food we buy each week, it just wasn’t cutting it. We were spending too much there and couldn’t figure out a way to spend less and continue to do the same things. So we’ve made some changes, and it definitely takes more planning on my part. We decided that we would purchase a Sam’s Club membership to use once or twice a month, at most, and start shopping again at Winn Dixie, Rouses if they have good sales, and also do a little of the drugstore game at CVS (the land of free!).

Like I said, it takes a lot of planning. I have to research and print my shopping lists and any matching coupons, and we set aside a day to make a trip to the coast to shop. Since I am a stay at home mom, all three of my kids come with me. This has been something new for us, because one of our children has anxiety anytime we leave the house, and pretty much has a meltdown any time we go in a store. He is getting a little older now though, so we’re trying our best to work through this and find strategies that work for us. So far, we’ve only had one bad shopping experience in the two or three weeks we’ve tried this. I plan ahead things like sandwiches for a picnic at the park, snacks to have between stores, and rewards for good behavior. Of course, I always bring freezer bags and coolers with us and we do our best to purchase the cold things last so we can go straight home afterwards. I’m thinking that I won’t be able to continue to do all of this when maybe #4 comes in December. I will simply have no room for kids AND groceries in our car, but hopefully we can figure something out by then.

Professional Goals:
I’ve been thinking and praying about which direction my blog should take. For a while the ideas and things I was getting inspired by didn’t seem to fit into “Purposeful Planning”, but then I realized that pretty much every single aspect of my life can fit into that in some way or another. Every goal I set, every system or routine I have, has a purpose behind it, and it usually also involves some planning. I’ll be sharing a post this week about the direction we’ll be doing this month with the blog. (Monthly Series starting soon… eek!)

Let’s go make a plan to be purposeful! 

My June Goals

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Well, I don’t want to be the someone who aims at nothing. I want to be the one who is striving to go further, to unlock more of my potential, and do my part and getting one step closer to God and to the person He designed me to be.

While I realize I’ve been pretty inactive on the blog lately, I thought I’d give you a little update of what’s going on and what I’m working on.

First, if you haven’t read my post, Increase, that will explain the whole reason that I’ve been a little lax in my blogging recently. I’m giving myself grace, and I so appreciate the grace you are giving me as well, as well as your accountability with your sweet comments of how you’ve missed hearing from me here. 😉 I’m trying to arrange my day so that I can have some time to write and to work  because mornings just aren’t working out for me so well right now. Hopefully, you will be hearing more from me this month as my energy is starting to return.

After reviewing my yearly goals, here are the things I will be working on for the month of June…

Spiritual Goals:
I’m still working through reading the One Year Bible, and I’m looking for a supplemental study to do next month, so let me know your favorites you’ve done!

One of the things I’m really being made aware of lately is my identity – who I am and who God made me to be. Ya’ll know I’m a sucker for all things personality-type, but lately I’m just being made aware of some of my flaws and the areas in which I really just need to grow and mature. It’s not been fun, and I’ve shed some tears (thanks, pregnancy hormones!), but it’s a good thing. I love to know that God is still working in me, even when it’s hard. I know I will be able to look back and see growth and maturity, and for that, I’m excited.

For now, you can be praying with me on this, specifically in the areas of control and perfectionism. I’m just finding that there are so many things that are out of my control, and out of my hands – mostly in my parenting and my mothering, but also in our finances and our situation there. I know that God takes care of us always, and that His plans are greater than our own, but I’m learning how to trust and how to grow even more in the meantime. I’m also becoming extremely aware of my emotions and how I tend to get really frustrated and annoyed in certain situations, whether it’s in parenting challenges or just life in general. I’ve always tried to be so careful not to say anything that would hurt someone else, even my children. I would never want to say hurtful words that will stick with them later or do anything to crush their little spirits. Instead of yelling or lashing out, I’m one to shut down and want to retreat. I think I’ve learned this about myself – that instead of “fight or flight”, for me it’s usually just flight. I run away from confrontation and hard things. I cower, and I just feel lost and don’t know what to do in those really frustration situations. It’s caused me to question and wonder “Why am I like this? Why do these things bother me so much?”

I know that it’s just a struggle with my own identity, and I want you to know that I do not stay in those negative spaces long. I have a good cry, pray, maybe vent a little to my husband, and then pick myself up and try again with whatever it was that we were working towards. I just know that I’m being made aware of this in me, that it’s up to be to be purposeful in learning how to have a correct response to it, instead of letting it get me down. I’ve been inspired by a book that I’m reading in how to practically, but spiritually deal with my annoyances and frustrations in a really healthy way.

One of the most important things we can do as Christians when we are made aware of something sinful or immature in us, is to bring those things – those thoughts and responses – in line with Christ and His Word.

“Take every thought captive, and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

And as we do that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

I’m so thankful for His Word and that He does this for us on a regular basis, and I’m glad He’s still working in me!

This month I’ll be working through these practical steps from Israel & Brook Wayne’s book, Pitchin’ a Fit.
1. Evaluate where you are on the anger spectrum.
2. Recognize your need to change, and your inability to do it on your own.
3. Ask God to forgive you and change your heart.
4. Believe that God can and will change you.
5. Saturate your mind in God’s word; memorize, and apply it.
6. Recognize your own anger triggers.
7. Confess and repent every time you blow it.
8. Strategically practice speaking words of encouragement to others. It will help rewire your brain with thoughts of gratitude rather than bitterness and anger.
9. It generally takes 30 days to create a new habit. Disrupt your old patterns, and intentionally replace them with new ones.
10. Be will to seek accountability and prayer support from others.
11. Journal your progress (and setbacks). This will give your perspective over time.
12. Tenaciously guard your daily time alone with Jesus, and don’t neglect your spiritual disciplines.

Mothering/Family Goals:
So if you haven’t already noticed, we’ve had some parenting challenges lately (well, for the past few years actually). I actually took one of our children, and we met with a child psychologist this past month to see if we could find some solutions. I came home with evaluations and an armful of materials to read through and try. I’ve worked to find a solution to help some of those challenges we’ve had, and for some of them – I’ve really seen some improvement and progress, but in others, we’re not quite where we need to be yet. We are praying right now about our next step… whether we should go back and try to pinpoint a cause of what we’re dealing with in order to find a key solution, or if the problems will resolve themselves with time. It’s really just beyond my areas of expertise in early childhood, and deeper than my understanding. I’ve done as much research as I can possibly do, but I have yet to find something to work for us in this. Pray for us that we’ll know which direction we need to take.

We are finishing up our homeschool year this week, so I’m working on our Summer plans. We decided that we definitely needed to take a Summer break from our homeschool, at least for a month or so. It will give me some time to do some much-needed planning and strategizing for next year, which I’m excited about. I just ordered my new Teacher Planner so it should be here soon for that. I’m working to add dates to my calendar of all of the Summer plans we are hearing about on a daily basis… Vacation Bible Schools, Michael’s Craft Camps, Theater Dollar Movies, Excel by 5 Fun Days, and more. It will be so much easier to go and enjoy these when we don’t have to worry about getting our school work done first. And most of these ideas are free or really cheap, which is awesome! I do want to be intentional with our Summer, like always, so we will be working through a Summer Reading Plan, as well as a few other educational things, but mostly Summer fun things like making s’mores, going to the splash pad, and watching some fireworks!

My Personal Goals: Reading Plans
One of my yearly goals was to read 12 books this year, which I am still on trackto do. I’ve made my reading plan for the month , and I’m currently working through two books.
Pitchin’ A Fit! (Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting) by Israel & Brook Wayne
Israel was one of the speakers at the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention we just went to in Mobile this past month. Justin was able to  talk with him for a while about some of our similar parenting challenges, and we ended up buying his book while we were there too!
Stengths Based Marriage (Build a Stronger Relationship By Understanding Each Other’s Gifts) by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey
I’m a sucker for anything personality type & strengths based. Jimmy Evans was one of the speakers at the Marriage Conference our church hosted and is the founder of Marriage Today.

Marriage Goals:
We attended a marriage conference this year, participated in a marriage small group this past semester, and have had one weekend getaway as a couple this year (the homeschool convention). We are trying to still have monthly date nights and intentionally have some quality time at home at least once a week. He’s been so busy with work, and our kids demand all of his time when he’s home, so I get jealous and really miss him sometimes. We really have to work to make this time a priority. I think we will be leading a family small group this Summer.

Health & Fitness Goals:
I am still doing Crossfit! I’ve worked out 14 days so far this month of May, and there’s still two days left. My only goal really is to just keep working out throughout this pregnancy. Justin thinks that if I do this, I will be surprised to see how much easier it is to bounce back afterwards. I’ve already lost my ability to do proper push-ups and my pull-up strength is already gone too, which makes me a little sad, but it’s just part of it I guess. It’s so crazy how easily fatigued I feel now doing simple things I’ve been doing for months. We took a family walk this weekend, and I was struggling… makes me feel really out of shape again. Just keep moving, and try to eat as healthy as possible. That will be easier once this nausea subsides, but I’m just doing the best I can with what I have.

Financial Goals:
Well, our house is for sale, and it’s funny that I’m not entirely stressed about it not selling yet. I know that it just takes time, and I just feel like God will do his thing in His timing. I really don’t like not knowing what the future holds or what’s in store, but I’m learning to trust anyway. It sure would be nice to be rid of our financial strain, but we’re doing the best we can in the meantime. We’re being good stewards, as best we know how. We’re working to pay down these pesky student loans. We’d really love to be able to reach some financial goals, but right now we’re just keeping on keeping on…. tithing, paying our bills each month, and trying to make things work for us and what’s important for us. We are just praying for God to do something miraculous this year! He loves us, and we can trust Him.

Professional Goals:
While I’ve been inactive on the blog recently, I have been praying about which direction I should take and move in with it. I actually do have some plans that I’m praying about and trying to decide if they are worth the investment. Everything worthwhile costs you something, doesn’t it? There is something else very exciting that I’m working on, which I will be sharing with you soon. I can’t wait!

What goals will you be working on this month? If you’re just starting out, you can read my series on My Purposeful Planning and hopefully be inspired with one thing to begin with and how to reach that one goal, which will only lead you to want to achieve more.

Let’s go make a plan to be purposeful!